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Review of Thick as Thieves

Thick as Thieves [Queen’s Thief]
by Megan Whalen Turner
Middle School, High School    Greenwillow    339 pp.    g
5/17    978-0-06-256824-3    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-06-256825-0    $18.89
e-book ed.  978-0-06-256827-4    $9.99

Turner’s eagerly awaited fifth Queen’s Thief novel (beginning with The Thief, rev. 11/96) displays in full her many fortes: ingenious plotting, nuanced characterization, and a subtle sleight of hand in the telling that promises to surprise even very astute readers. Kamet, slave and secretary to the Mede emperor’s nephew (a former ambassador to Attolia), has every reason to think his master, and thus he himself, will achieve great power in the Mede empire. But when he’s given a whispered warning that his master has been poisoned, Kamet must flee to save his life; fortuitously, an Attolian soldier offers to escort him to freedom in Attolia, and Kamet reluctantly agrees. Their journey is tense, dangerous, and eventful; by the end, it has shaken Kamet’s self-regard along with all his certainties and assumptions. Turner deepens and broadens the quasi-classical world of her Queen’s Thief stories here, developing familiar characters even as she introduces a new landscape and culture, with its own gods and epics, poetic forms and tastes. The characteristically multilayered deviousness of the author’s plotting engages not just political machinations but also fundamental quandaries about destiny, volition, and identity. “I wanted to believe I steered the course of my future,” Kamet says ruefully, reflecting on the ways of gods and men. Thoroughly tricky, insightful, and satisfying.

From the May/June 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Deirdre Baker About Deirdre Baker

Deirdre F. Baker, a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and the Toronto Star, teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto. The author of Becca
at Sea (Groundwood), she is currently at work on a sequel—written in the
past tense.

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